The Edge (1997 film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lee Tamahori|
|Produced by||Art Linson|
|Written by||David Mamet|
L. Q. Jones
Bart the Bear
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Editing by||Neil Travis|
|Studio||Art Linson Productions|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||September 26, 1997|
|Running time||117 min.|
The Edge is a 1997 American survival drama film directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. Bart the Bear, a trained Kodiak Bear known for appearances in several Hollywood movies, also appears in the film as a vicious grizzly; this was one of his last film roles.
The film was written by David Mamet, and despite the unusual setting it touches upon many themes common to Mamet's other works, including the bonding of strong male characters, tough posturings, and playful surprises. The story explores, through action and intricate dialog, the survival instincts of these men in terms of their competition with each other and with their environment.
Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins), a billionaire with a photographic memory; Robert "Bob" Green (Alec Baldwin), a photographer; and Stephen (Harold Perrineau), his assistant, arrive in a remote Alaskan locale via Charles' private jet, along with Charles' much-younger wife, Mickey (Elle Macpherson), a beautiful fashion model. After landing and boarding the floatplane to finish the journey, Charles opens a wrapped book about survival in the wild, apparently a gift from an employee. The group, who intend to conduct a photo shoot, are the only guests at a lodge. Styles (L.Q. Jones), the proprietor, warns everyone that the region is inhabited by bears and not to leave food uncovered. The party also celebrate Charles' birthday, and Mickey gives him an engraved pocket watch. Bob's present is an expensive hunting knife. Charles is seen reading and absorbing the contents of the survival guide.
When Bob's male model gets sick, he invites Charles to fly north with him and Stephen to a different location where a characterized Indian is hunting. In mid-air, Charles, having seen Bob kiss Mickey on the cheek and suspecting that they are having an affair, cryptically asks how Bob is planning to kill him. Before the conversation goes any further, the plane suddenly hits a flock of birds and nose-dives into a lake, killing the pilot. Charles, Bob, and Stephen barely escape safely to shore.
Lost, wet, and freezing, the 3 men attempt to hike to a more likely search area, only to find that a male Kodiak bear is stalking them. They elude it by hoisting a fallen tree to act as a makeshift bridge across a narrow river channel. Stephen and Bob cross first. During Charles' attempt, he falls into the rapids below and Bob grabs him downstream along with Stephen, saving his life. The rescue apparently leads Charles to doubt his earlier suspicions of Bob. Later that night after getting lost, the bear attacks their camp and Charles and Bob are forced to abandon Stephen, who is killed. Though not an outdoorsman, Charles draws upon his newly acquired and encyclopedic survival knowledge to guide them, and the men work together, bonding somewhat, though an air of mistrust still separates them. Tired and hungry, they find their way back to the river and Charles produces a field-expedient fishing line. The bear interrupts before anything can be caught and the two again narrowly escape. While still on the run from the bear, they spot a search and rescue helicopter but fail to signal it in time. In a moment of despair and extreme hunger, Charles resolves to bait the bear and kill it. Despondent at first, Bob is rallied to the cause by Charles' admonition, "What one man can do, another can do!", which he forces Bob to repeat. The phrase becomes a battle cry and the men prepare for the confrontation. Armed with hand-carved spears and using a cloth soaked in Charles' blood, they lure the bear into a swinging trap of sharpened spears which fails to impale it on the first swing. However, the bear is slightly injured on the return swipe. The two retreat to a river bed, and Bob is mauled. Before any serious injury can occur, Charles distracts the bear, luring him away from Bob. As the bear prepares to rear up and pounce, Charles grounds his spear into a crevasse and impales the bear under its own body weight as it descends upon him, saving Bob's life.
Now following the river south, the men find an empty hunters' cabin containing some supplies, a rifle, and a canoe. Charles reasons that the river should lead back to the lakeside lodge and the canoe is tested for buoyancy. Before leaving, Charles offers to make tea. As Charles is about to use the paper receipt from Mickey's birthday gift as tinder to light the stove, he notices on it that she also bought Bob an expensive wristwatch engraved with an intimate inscription. Charles realizes that Bob and Mickey are indeed having an affair and that Bob is going to kill him to obtain his wealth and wife. Bob drinks to prepare himself, causing Charles to lament that Bob is unable to kill him sober. As Bob is about to shoot him, Charles maneuvers Bob into stepping backward and into a trapping pit left by the cabin's owner. Bob suffers a mortal wound, but rather than leaving him to die, Charles transports him downriver by canoe. They make camp, hoping a search party finds them there. Bob apologizes for betraying Charles and says Mickey was never involved in the murder plot. A rescue helicopter appears and spots them, but Bob dies before it lands.
Back at the lodge, Charles hands Bob's watch to Mickey, his expression telling her that he knows about her adultery. He then enigmatically declares to the gathered press that the other men died, "saving my life."
- Anthony Hopkins as Charles Morse
- Alec Baldwin as Robert "Bob" Green
- Harold Perrineau as Stephen
- Elle Macpherson as Mickey Morse
- L.Q. Jones as Styles
- Kathleen Wilhoite as Ginny
- David Lindstedt as James
- Mark Kiely as Mechanic
- Eli Gabay as Jet Pilot
- Larry Musser as Amphibian Pilot
- Gordon Tootoosis as Jack Hawk
- Kelsa Kinsly as Reporter
- Bart the Bear as the Kodiak Bear
Frank Welker has done the roars and the shrieks of the bear.
The shooting of the film is discussed by Art Linson in his 2002 book What Just Happened?, later made into a film starring Robert De Niro. Initially called Bookworm, the script was turned down by Harrison Ford and Dustin Hoffman before Alec Baldwin settled on the role of Green. De Niro showed some interest in the role of Morse but ultimately declined. Baldwin's unwillingness to shave a beard that he had grown for the role is reenacted by Bruce Willis in Barry Levinson's adaptation of Linson's book.
Like many other actors who had worked with Bart the Bear, Baldwin was extremely impressed with how well-trained and docile the bear was. Baldwin commented that Bart "should send the film editor a fruit basket every day for making him look so scary."
Three months before the film was to be released, the studio felt Bookworm needed a more commercial title. Dozens of others were considered, according to Linson, until the film was renamed The Edge.
The film's musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who worked closely with director Lee Tamahori to develop a score more diverse than other works by Goldsmith in the 90s. Initially, the score was released on CD in 1997, upon the film's release, by RCA Records. Over time, the first release went out of print, leading to La-La Land Records issuing a limited 3500 unit pressing of the complete score, which was also out of print by July 2013. The new release contains 25 minutes of unreleased music and fixes a problem found on the RCA release affecting the track "Rescued", which contained rustling noises during some quieter parts.
|The Edge: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Jerry Goldsmith|
|Released||September 30, 1997 (RCA)
June 15, 2010 (L-LL)
|Label||RCA Records (1997)
La-La Land Records (2010)
|Jerry Goldsmith chronology|
RCA Records tracklist:
- Lost In The Wild (3:01)
- The Ravine (4:38)
- Birds (2:24)
- Mighty Hunter (1:34)
- Bitter Coffee (3:03)
- Stalking (5:47)
- Deadfall (6:15)
- The River (2:21)
- Rescued (6:04)
- The Edge (2:57)
La-La Land Records tracklist:
- Early Arrival (1:32)*
- Lost In The Wild(s) (2:59)
- A Lucky Man/Open Door (1:41)* (does not include the final orchestral outburst as the "bear" bursts through the door, which only lasts for a few seconds)
- Mighty Hunter (1:31)
- The Spirit (0:36)*
- Birds (2:22)
- The Fire / Breakfast (2:31)*
- Rich Man (0:58)*
- The Ravine (4:36)
- Bitter Coffee (3:01)
- Wound (1:38)*
- Stephen's Death (2:26)* (contains an unused ending from 1:45 onwards)
- The Cage / False Hope / No Matches (3:34)* (contains crossfades between the three cues, although they are separated in the film)
- Stalking (5:46)
- Deadfall / Bear Fight (6:21)
- The Discovery / Turn Your Back (5:01)* (contains a brief alternate segment at 1:34 – 1:46)
- The River (2:26)
- Rescued (6:03)
- End Title (Lost In The Wild)(s) (1:59)*
- The Edge (2:55)
- False Hope (Alternate Take) (1:08)* (alternate of 0:56 – 2:00 of track 13, with more percussion and an additional brass melody)
- Rescued (Film Version Ending) (1:19)* (alternate ending of track 18, reflecting the film version)
- The Edge (Alternate Take) (3:00)* (alternate recording of track 20)
(* = Previously unreleased)
Upon release, The Edge received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Based on 47 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 60% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 6.4/10. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, claiming the filmmakers did well by not going berserk with the action sequences as other films do. But, he did go on to criticize the ending by saying that:
- "Having successfully negotiated almost its entire 118 minutes, The Edge shoots itself in the foot. After the emotionally fraught final moments, just as we are savoring the implications of what has just happened, the screen fades to black and we immediately get a big credit for Bart the Bear. Now Bart is one helluva bear (I loved him in the title role of The Bear), but this credit in this place is a spectacularly bad idea."
The film was first released on DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on June 4, 2002. A high-definition version has become available on Blu-ray as of May 11, 2010. Both home video formats contain no special features with a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film.
- Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films
- Robin Berkowitz (September 29, 1997). "Kodiak Moments Steal Show". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Linson, Art (2002). What Just Happened? Bitter Hollywood Tales from the Front Line. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1-58234-240-7.
- "Filmtracks: The Edge (Jerry Goldsmith)". Filmtracks.com. June 23, 2010. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Edge, The- Soundtrack details. SoundtrackCollector.com. Retrieved on 2011-05-05.
- La La Land Records, The Edge. Lalalandrecords.com (2011-04-30). Retrieved on 2011-05-05.
- "The Edge - Rotten Tomatoes". IMDB. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- "The Edge". Chicago Sun-Times.
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